Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

PROCESS | On Dialogue

Last week, Long Time, No See? was launched as part of ISEA2013 in Sydney. Over the past year, Linda has worked on participation design for this project and implemented a participatory process drawing on social learning, community engagement and dialogue. A workshop, titled Setting Your Compass, was also presented at ICE in Parramatta. The workshop, addressing a series of questions about values, was intended to provide a clearing for conversation, dialogue and exploration to promote awareness in difference. The intent is not to drive towards consensus or shared vision, but to draw out participant values and assumptions. This culturally based approach provides a flexible and open-ended to explore. It also provided the ground on which to explore the relationship between values and agency (or action), rather than adopt a hard focus on sustainability.

“Dialogue means we sit and talk with each other, especially those with whom we may think we have the greatest differences. However, talking together all too often means debating, discussing with a view to convincing the other, arguing for our point of view, examining pro’s and con’s. In dialogue, the intention is not to advocate but to inquire; not to argue but to explore; not to convince but to discover.” Louise Diamond, Ph.D., The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy

Dialogue is a difficult process for many people because it asks participants to suspend judgement and to step back from ‘having the right answer’ or debating or defending a point of view. While it is open-ended and flexible, it is intended to facilitate understanding and to recognise multiple points of view. As a process, it builds capacity and resilience. This is essential for difficult issues and wicked problems like sustainability, climate change and social justice. The dialogue itself can result in greater understanding and meaning: it can be both search and discovery. It can provide participants with a space to practice equality, listening and empathy.

This dialogue – in a workshop environment – was the prelude to undertaking a guided walk using a specially designed Fieldbook and app for creating a path that is imprinted into the Long Time, No See? online visualisation and sonification. Long Time, No See? invites participants to set out to explore and reflect, in the spirit of adventure, to reveal other and emergent ways of existing in this world through poetic actions and relationships that animate a sense of care. The pathmaking provides an opportunity to reflect on the learnings and experience of the dialogue in a way that enables the marking of difference and commonality set against a world shaped of environmental, technological and demographic data.

Presently, DIY tools are in development so that participants can undertake these explorations through social networks or on their own to make their values and assumptions explicit before contributing to the project.

Long Time, No See? involved a multidisciplinary team drawn from arts, design, planning, science and software development. It was funded by the Australia Council as one of four Broadband Arts Initiatives nationwide.


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